“All Saturday across the networks, media grandees who’d voted for Carter and Mondale, just like all their friends did, tried to explain the appeal of Ronald Reagan,” writes Mark Steyn.

“He was ’The Great Communicator’, he had a wonderful sense of humor, he had a charming smile…self-deprecating…the tilt of his head….

“All true, but not what matters.”

Like thousands of Americans, I plan to walk through the Rotunda, where our 40th president will lie in state Thursday, and I loved the grace and humor of Ronald Reagan.

Like Steyn, though, I know that what really mattered about Reagan….

“Ronald Reagan saw Soviet Communism for what it was: a great evil,” writes Steyn. “Millions of Europeans across half a continent from Poland to Bulgaria, Slovenia to Latvia live in freedom today because he acknowledged that simple truth when the rest of the political class was tying itself in knots trying to pretend otherwise. That’s what counts. He brought down the ’evil empire’, and all the rest is fine print.

“At the time, the charm and the smile got less credit from the intelligentsia, confirming their belief that he was a dunce who’d plunge us into Armageddon. Everything you need to know about the establishment’s view of Ronald Reagan can be found on page 624 of Dutch, Edmund Morris’ weird post-modern biography. The place is Berlin, the time June 12, 1987:

“’Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!’ declaims Dutch, trying hard to look infuriated, but succeeding only in an expression of mild petulance…One braces for a flash of prompt lights to either side of him: APPLAUSE.

“What a rhetorical opportunity missed. He could have read Robert Frost’s poem on the subject, ’Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,’ to simple and shattering effect. Or even Edna St. Vincent Millay’s lines, which he surely holds in memory…

    Only now for the first time I see
    This wall is actually a wall, a thing
    Come up between us, shutting me away
    From you … I do not know you any more.

“Poor old Morris, the plodding, conventional, scholarly writer driven mad by 14 years spent trying to get a grip on Ronald Reagan. Most world leaders would have taken his advice: You’re at the Berlin Wall, so you have to say something about it, something profound but oblique, maybe there’s a poem on the subject … Who cares if Frost’s is over-quoted, and a tad hard to follow for a crowd of foreigners?”